Originally Posted by Synthetik
Almost all pros use some form of muffling in the studio and live. They often use internal damping that is not visible on videos. There is no equating amature vs pro in terms of muffling.
"Gee Mr. Gadd, your drums sound so dead. You must be a real rank amature!"
I would say that out of 10 professional drummers that I either know personally or have studied about and talked to via email, and other famous guys like Neil Peart, John Bonham, Eddie Bayers, Kenny Aronoff to name a few, 99% of them do NOT muffle their drums. If anything, a small bit of whatever on the snare drum just to take the "ping" out may be used and that's about it. I'm sure there are exceptions, but if you don't believe me, take a look around this site at video clips or shots of pro drummers playing live and try to catch views where you can see the kit from the driver's seat. More often than not there is nothing on the snare and toms, and I highly doubt that there are internal muffling devices. That whole concept impedes the natural vibration of the head to create sound waves, is flawed and any serious drummer, drum tech or sound engineer should never do that (I'm talking snare and toms). I'm not saying it's amateurish or wrong to muffle, I'm just saying that there must be something to not muffling your drums for it to be so common among professionals. In general, I think drums sound best unmuffled and singing, but that's just me.